Release Date: July 12th, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Source: I own a copy.
Blurb from Goodreads: Amy Goodnight knows that the world isn't as simple as it seems—she grew up surrounded by household spells and benevolent ghosts. But she also understands that "normal" doesn't mix with magic, and she's worked hard to build a wall between the two worlds. Not only to protect any hope of ever having a normal life.
Ranch-sitting for her aunt in Texas should be exactly that. Good old ordinary, uneventful hard work. Only, Amy and her sister, Phin, aren't alone. There's someone in the house with them—and it's not the living, breathing, amazingly hot cowboy from the ranch next door.
It's a ghost, and it's more powerful than the Goodnights and all their protective spells combined. It wants something from Amy, and none of her carefully built defenses can hold it back.
This is the summer when the wall between Amy's worlds is going to come crashing down.
Review: Okay, I’ll fully admit there is some bias in my review. I’m from Texas, and this book felt close to my heart. Texas Gothic is set in the hills of central Texas, and I am from the northern part of the state, but I still felt a certain amount of pride when I read this book.
Texas Gothic is actually a realistic and modern display of the state today. Clement-Moore captured the cultural diversity of the region perfectly. For some reason, many outsiders tend to ignore the Spanish and the Mexican influence on the Texas front. Yes, we have cowboys and scary religious fanatics, but if you stay on the I35 portions of the state, you can find that Texas holds a beautiful and splendid blend of culture and ideas. I’m always thrilled to hear people exclaim that they were shocked at the wonders of the state. Even our own president stated that the state is beautiful.
Now, on to the book review.
This is my first Clement-Moore book. I know she has been in the field for a bit, but I just never had a chance to read any of her work. I’ll be happy to admit that I’m ready to read another book by this author.
I’ll get the hard part out of the way: the things that tended to bother me. Texas Gothic wasn’t a perfect book. I felt a little lost during the middle of the story and some of the more sophisticated vocabulary words (such as macabre) and general terms (“ax murderer”) was repeated unnecessarily. However, the book has plenty of highlights to outweigh these small issues.
The characters fell into their respected categories, such as the beautiful and brainy sister and the hot male lead, but the categories did allow enough breathing room for the characters to be realistic. Amy was a grounded, temperamental yet level-headed character. She didn’t put down her own outer appearance (in fact, she says that she isn’t too bad looking herself). Amy never once put herself down or fought for any sympathy through self deprecation or blindness to her own qualities. Her internal struggle to find her own place in the real world and the paranormal world read as a real issue, not just a plot device thrown in to turn a love story into a novel. Also, no insta-love here to be found. I personally never fell for Ben McCulloch. He seemed a bit too bitter and high-and-mighty for my taste, and the warmth of his character was snuffed out by the constant emotional games he played with Amy. The chemistry, on the other hand, added extra spark to the book. This isn’t a romance book parading as a full-flesh story; Clement-Moore avoids insulting her audience and places the romance as an element, not a focus. Amy’s older sister, Phin, was the lovely and brainy eldest sister and unknown charmer of the family. This might sound so rundown and overused, but Phin was actually very likable and steered away from the typical beautiful older sister stereotype. She had her own set of faults, as she was able to grow and step outside of her own comfort zone as well. I’ll even say that reading about Phin’s secondary story added to the storyline overall. I believe that smart, serious girls are used as a mocking element in the book. Instead of forcing the supporting siblings into changing, the author allowed her to simply grow and learn as a person without sacrificing Phin as an overly smart and dry girl.
I also have to hand it to Clement-Moore on her research. She did her homework when it came to the witchcraft, archeology, and the cattle industry portions of the novel. Outside of the joy of finding a book based in Texas that didn’t make me want to set it on fire, the in-depth information about kitchen witchery and historical digs added real content to the story. It felt real, even with the ghosts and the paranormal mixed in. Even without these elements, Texas Gothic was able to hold its own as Clement-Moore supported her writing with the small details that seem to be waylaid in a majority of the stories in the bookstore today. The University of Texas charm was able to make an appearance as well. I’ll also add here that I was thrilled to see La Llorona pop up. La Llorona is a somewhat popular story, especially in southern Texas, and she is our own Bloody Mary down here. If you don’t know the legend, I would recommend tabbing over to Wikipedia and doing some research. I’ll also plug in the short story “Woman Hollering Creek” by Sandra Cisneros as a great follow up read after Texas Gothic.
Last, I have to point out that Dr Pepper and Sonic did make an appearance. For those of you who do not know the awesomeness of Dr Pepper and Sonic, then I pity you. It might seem odd that these are a major staple of the Texas way of life, but I can say we Texans love our local soda and our drive-in fast food joints. I had to tweet the author directly to thank her for adding these into the story.
Texas Gothic was a surprise favorite read of mine. I can’t say it was just a fun read, and if you have a love of ghost stories, Mexican and southern United States culture, or witchcraft, then I would highly recommend this book for you. I know that Kara said she has the book and hasn’t read it quite yet. I might have to do some bargaining to get her to pick this one up next.
Review by: Lyn